Sunday, January 27, 2008

Interesting Article, Bad Title

LiveScience had an article about a recent discovery in genetics made by some researchers in Maryland. They found out that DNA sequences that are the same are more likely to cluster together than those that are different.

Curiously, DNA with identical sequences of bases were roughly twice as likely to gather together as DNA molecules with different sequences.


The electrically charged chains of sugars and phosphates of double helixes of DNA cause the molecules to repel each other. However, identical DNA double helixes have matching curves, meaning they repel each other the least, Leikin explained.
It's an interesting discovery, although it remains to be seen how useful it's going to be. But that's not the reason I'm mentioning it here. What made me laugh was the title they gave the article:
DNA Molecules Display Telepathy-like Quality.

How long until the first New Age healer picks up on this and claims he can heal your DNA by telepathy?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Woe is PhD

So I'm looking for a PhD place. Ideally, I'd like it to be at my current university, as the other universities in the UK that are good in my field are mostly located in London, and I don't like that city much. Nor can I really afford to live there.

I'd like it to involve Bioinformatics, but not require any wetlab work that I would have to do myself. There should also be scope for applying Machine Learning techniques. There's two areas of research that interest me. One is work in genetics, such as gene regulation modelling, or protein structure and function prediction. The other is to model biological systems at the macro level and predict how changes in the environment influence animal population size or plant growth.

I could also see myself doing a straight Machine Learning project without any Bioinformatics involved, but with slightly less enthusiasm.

I'd like to have a supportive supervisor, who I can talk to before I start my PhD and who will advise me on how to write up my project proposal. He or she doesn't need to be an academic superstar, but a fair number of puplications and at least some amount of recognition in either Bioinformatics or Machine Learning would not go amiss.

I'd like to get the chance to teach during my PhD, either tutorials or even lectures.

A scholarship would be helpful. If I don't get one, my parents could help, but I'd like to be able to support myself for once.

And tomorrow, I will meet with a potential supervisor who might be able to offer the place that has most of these characteristics. (I'm not sure about the teaching yet.) Fingers crossed!